The easiest ways to get into an airline lounge without flying business class

Ask any highflyer and they'll agree: one of the most appealing aspects of travel at the pointy end is the pre-departure lounge ritual.

Whether a business lounge or next-level first class lounge, being able to plant yourself in relative seclusion to either plough through a little more work or simply enjoy some luxury dining before you stroll to your departure gate can be a real boon for the business traveller.

With Qantas Airlines and Virgin Australia recently extending access to certain airport lounges outside the regular premium cabin travel class or frequent flyer status requirements, your pre-departure luxury options just took off.

Business or pleasure

Across select Qantas Business and First lounges, the airline now offers paid access for three hours to lounges in Perth, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Auckland, Wellington and London. Access is dependent on sufficient space during off-peak periods; once eligible Qantas, Oneworld and partner airline flyers are accommodated.

Qantas Business lounges offer a variety of seating options and workstations, a generous buffet and variety of beverage options, as well as specialty cuisine influenced by location. 

Meanwhile, Qantas First lounges offer luxury dining from a Neil Perry-designed menu with table service, private workstations with PCs and spa treatments to unwind before your jaunt. Paid access ranges between roughly $46 (Auckland Business Lounge) up to $218 (LA First Lounge).

Brisbane dreaming

Not to be outdone, Virgin Australia has recently partnered with My Lounge to open a new lounge at Brisbane's international airport terminal for Virgin and partner airline flyers, including guests on a $60 pay-per-use pass.

The modestly sized lounge – it seats 108 people – is a suitably funky alternative to the older lounges that surround it, and features buffet dining, generous beverage options and barista-made coffee.

There are many workstations to be found, each with power and charging options for devices, however, you may want to steer clear of the games room if you want to concentrate on work.


Keys to the kingdom

If you look further afield, there is actually a large range of pay-per-use lounges available outside of frequent flyer programs and flight class entitlements that offer business travellers on any fare a place to set up shop.

For those days when a premium seat was unavailable or you arrive at Changi airport to be informed your flight has been delayed five hours (*cough-this writer-cough*), here are some of Executive Style's favourite lounge services to keep you refreshed and productive.

Lounge Buddy is a global airport lounge access service that allows you to search for a suitable lounge and book access. Time limits may apply to some lounges. Currently, American Express is the only payment option, although some lounges allow walk-up purchases.

Speaking of the card that launched a thousand endorsement careers, American Express customers can also access to Centurion Lounges in the United States, and AMEX lounges in Sydney and Melbourne international terminals. Access is granted with the presentation of an eligible AMEX card.


For those business travellers looking for a little extra service, Dragon Pass is your key to executive-level travel - connecting travellers with local transport options, concierge services and luxury lounges around the world.

Use the dedicated app to tailor all aspects of travel to your needs. Step out your door to a waiting limo, which will usher you to a waiting concierge at the airport to facilitate check-in and lounge access before your flight.

No1 Lounges is a similar pay-per-use service to Lounge Buddy, offering a greater selection of premium lounges. The company also operates The House lounges in Sydney and Melbourne, which feature a la carte dining and waiter service, impressive beverage options and a range of workstations.

Priority Pass currently features the most extensive list of lounges around the globe, with entry available for a fee or at no charge, depending on your annual membership tier. For frequent flyers, this service's Prestige membership level is a non-fuss way to walk into many lounges in almost any airport at no charge.